Weatherhead Uses ‘Manage by Designing’ to Inspire Innovative Thinking at Cleveland’s University Circle Institutions | Weatherhead

Weatherhead Uses ‘Manage by Designing’ to Inspire Innovative Thinking at Cleveland’s University Circle Institutions

Posted 11.2.2009

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October 7, 2009

Rebecca Murphy
(216) 368.0080

The Weatherhead School of Management Uses ‘Manage by Designing’ to Inspire Innovative Thinking at Cleveland’s University Circle Institutions
Professor Fred Collopy explains why “good management is not just about choosing the best alternative; it is about designing new and better ones”

CLEVELAND, OHIO – The wide variety of institutions in Cleveland’s University Circle area have a new way of collaborating, dealing with challenges and capitalizing on opportunities – utilizing a newly-created approach called “Manage by Designing,” which is being spearheaded by Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management.

The local institutions are now using “design concepts” to re-evaluate and re-frame their individual and collective roles and impact, which will enable them to design better experiences for their stakeholders. One of the fundamental tenets of Weatherhead’s Manage by Designing initiative is to adopt a design mindset to reframe challenges and imagine fresh solutions. 

“Good management is not just about choosing the best alternative; it is also about designing new and better ones. The Manage by Designing initiative is built on the premise that our corporations and our institutions need leaders who observe with fresh eyes, conceive and model new possibilities, experiment with alternatives, implement and refine best ideas, and continue to question existing conditions,” said Dr. Fred Collopy, chair of Weatherhead’s Information Systems Department, who leads the school’s internationally recognized Manage by Designing charge. “Through this approach, we believe the art, design and management capabilities of University Circle institutions can strengthen each other to make the region a center of innovation.”

To begin the process for University Circle, Weatherhead recently sponsored “Reshaping Boundaries in Art, Design and Management.” The three-day workshop drew 45 participants from 19 University Circle institutions, including several academic departments at Case Western Reserve, Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Playhouse, Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, Karamu House, and the Cleveland Clinic. The workshop involved a series of interactive group exercises, and the creation of two- and three-dimensional representations of go-forward ideas. It was facilitated by Lucy Kimbell of the Saïd Business School at Oxford University and Youngjin Yoo of Temple University in Philadelphia.

"The potential exists for University Circle to be a global resource for innovative thinking and action,” said workshop participant Daniel Cuffaro, chair of the Industrial Design Department at the Cleveland Institute of Art. “In the pursuit of this goal, each organization must be its own worst critic in the pursuit of excellence, enabling this collection of resources to be greater than the sum of its parts. Events such as 'Reshaping Boundaries' enable collaborative critical analysis and the forming of valuable networks.”

Weatherhead and Dr. Collopy are internationally recognized for Manage by Designing – an emerging theme in management education. A September 30, 2009 special report by BusinessWeek lists Weatherhead as one of the world’s 30 best university programs for teaching both business and design, emphasizing design’s strategic role in business, and significantly bridging disciplines such as design, business and technology. Weatherhead’s MBA curriculum includes a two-semester course on "Managing Design Opportunities," course work in systems and design thinking, and the development of hands-on skills such as sketching and prototyping.

Weatherhead’s interest in how to Manage by Designing was sparked by the School’s experience with world-renowned architect Frank Gehry during the design of Case Western Reserve’s iconic Peter B Lewis Building, which Weatherhead moved into in 2002. During the seven years leading up to that move, Weatherhead observed the design process that Gehry and his associates employed, noting the unique problem solving skills and innovative thinking they brought to every aspect of the building’s form, materials, technologies and construction. Based on this experience, the faculty began to transform management education by cultivating a design attitude throughout the Weatherhead School of Management and by including design skills in its curricula.

For more information about Weatherhead’s Manage by Designing initiative, visit

About Case Western Reserve University
Case Western Reserve is among the nation’s leading research institutions. Founded in 1826 and shaped by the unique merger of the Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University, Case Western Reserve is distinguished by its strengths in education, research, service, and experiential learning. Located in Cleveland, Case Western Reserve offers nationally recognized programs in the Arts and Sciences, Dental Medicine, Engineering, Law, Management, Medicine, Nursing, and Social Work.

About the Weatherhead School of Management

Since its inception, the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University has received international acclaim for developing bold ideas that redefine the way management education is taught. This spirit of innovation has elevated its management programs to global prominence, earning Weatherhead a reputation as one of the most innovative business schools in the world.


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Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University cultivates creativity, innovation, and purpose-driven leadership to design a better world.